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Violence and client aggression

Violence at work is defined as any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work. This definition includes verbal or physical aggression (from customers or members of the public) directed at workers, including those who work in a contact centre environment.

Factors which can increase the risk of violence and client aggression include situations where there:

  • are long waiting times for customers
  • is an increased reliance on customers using automated technology
  • is a need for workers to suppress emotions (e.g. anger or frustration)
  • is an over-reliance on shift work and/or provision of 24 hour services.

Reduce your risks

Ways for employers to minimise the risk of violence and client aggression towards their contact centre staff include:

  • develop and implement workplace policies and procedures to inform workers how to respond to threats from clients including violence, aggression and self-harm
  • ensure workers have easy access to procedures dealing with violence and client aggression
  • provide support for contact centre workers following interactions with aggressive clients
  • allow contact centre workers access to breakout areas for short breaks following interactions with aggressive clients
  • provide access to employee assistance programs or counselling services when available.

The handbook for the Prevention and management of work-related violence and aggression in health services (PDF, 1.55 MB) provides a framework to identify, prevent and manage aggression and violence in health industry workplaces